What to Look for in a Canopy Tent

Adding a shade-casting canopy to your next tailgate or backyard BBQ could give your space a boost. Discover the features to consider for an elevated outdoor experience.

When it comes to tailgating season, your parking spot is more than just two lines in a lot — it’s your base camp. For your next outdoor party, your yard is more than just open space — it’s the center of the festivities.

When you’re planning your next get-together, don’t overlook the weather conditions you could face.

On a hot and sunny day, high temperatures can cause your drinks to get warm while your guests get burned. If rain is in the forecast, the weather could dampen the results of all the hard work you put into making your party a success.

This is where a canopy tent can save the day. They’re user-friendly, easy to set up and could help spare your soiree from the unforgiving elements. But how do you find that perfect canopy?

Here is what you will need to look for to make sure all your needs are met. There are lots of options in size and customization to help you remove “weather permitting” from your party lingo.


Most canopy tents have the same four legs and overhead cover, but the size they come in can vary greatly. You will have to consider what your needs are when deciding on your tent’s size. Common sizes for canopy tents include 10’x10′ and 12’x12′, though there are larger and smaller sizes available.

Remember to also think about the walk-in height of the tent. If you have some taller guests, you’ll want to make sure they aren’t whacking their foreheads every time they step in and out to grab some food or to get some shade. Canopy tents with a cathedral ceiling or telescoping legs for height adjustments will provide cover for partygoers big and small.


The canopy and frame of the tent can be constructed from a variety of materials.

The two common materials used in the frame are steel and aluminum. Steel tends to be stronger and heavier, which can be helpful in windy conditions. And while steel can corrode, many models come with a powder coat to help protect from rust. Aluminum, meanwhile, can be lighter and easier to set up, but is more likely to bend than steel.

As for the canopy itself, the most common material is a water-resistant polyester. It can come in different thicknesses, which will have a major impact on the durability and how much water it can withstand. The higher the thickness, the stronger it should be.

There are also canopies made of polyester with a vinyl coating. While they might cost more, these vinyl canopies are made to offer better protection from UV rays and the weather. Some vinyl canopies are also designed to be fire retardant.


Canopy tents can come with either slant or straight legs, and you’ll need to decide which style is right for you.

Slant legs are popular due to their look, but usually take up more room without additional protection from the elements. For example, a 10’x10′ canopy with slant legs might have an outside measurement of 100 square feet but actually only offer 64 square feet of upper material for shade.

Your other option is a canopy with straight legs. They can be sturdier and offer more protection from the elements. If you have a canopy that is listed as 10’x10′, you can expect to have 100 square feet of upper material for shade.


Want to take your outdoor bash to the next level? There are a variety of features and accessories that can help your canopy tent stand out:

  • Sidewalls — These offer both privacy and protection from the weather and sun. Coming in full-and half-wall sizes, sidewalls can be made from a variety of materials. You will find polyester side walls in varying levels of thickness, as well as mesh sidewalls designed to keep insects away and air flowing.
  • Custom graphics — Want to show your team pride? There are tons of canopy tents with logos for professional and college sports teams to choose from.
  • Carrying cases —  A carrying case will make moving your canopy tent a breeze, with handles and wheels for easy movability. You can also find carrying cases with a hard outer shell for added protection. Some canopy tents will come with their own carrying case from the manufacturer.
  • One-push technology – Many canopies require you to have a friend or two to set it up. But some models are come with this spring technology that will allow you set up a canopy on your own.

Remember to weigh down your canopy before potential wind gusts can weigh down your fun by causing your tent to become airborne. Be sure to purchase leg weights, anchors, sandbags and/or tie downs if your canopy doesn’t come with them already.

Once you find the canopy tent to meet your needs, you will be ready to kick back, fire up the grill and make lasting memories with your friends and family.